Floods washing over South Sudan cause “oil-cide”

By Kor Chop Leek, Chair, Sudd Environmental Agency

The floods washing over South Sudan’s oil fields are causing “irreparable” damage to wells (more than 100 in one area alone) and pipelines – and flushing out a “black tide” of pollutants in the process. This is rolling over homes, farms and villages, with nearly 50,000 victims in a single county.

These facts have been confirmed by Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC), the consortium responsible for part of South Sudan’s oil production, and by the government of South Sudan.

The sad fact: this environmental and humanitarian disaster – “oil-cide” – was foreseen and was thus entirely preventable.

It was foreseen by oil fields and residents, who started issuing urgent and agonized calls for preventive measures months prior to the onset of the rainy season.

The funding needed for such measures went to line the pockets of government officials – and to boost the profits of China National Petroleum, Petronas of Malaysia and other companies holding stakes in DPOC.

And the worst is yet to come, thanks to incessant rains, which threaten to shut down the country’s entire oil production, and to set in motion a chain of catastrophic breakdowns.